The Johnston family arrived in South Australia in 1839 and in 1892 Alexander, the tenth of thirteen children, purchased 97 hectares of rich farmland southeast of the then fledgling village of McLaren Vale. He named his land Pirramimma, an Aboriginal phrase meaning 'the moon and the stars'
The Pirramimma Winery is located just a short distance south of the small township of McLaren Vale, about 40 kilometres south of Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. Tempered by the cooling breezes of the nearby Gulf St. Vincent, McLaren vale has a mild Mediterranean climate which, coupled with the complex rich soil structure, has attained international fame for its rich expressive red wines and elegant whites.
The vineyard soils vary from sandy, on the rise, to rich dark loam on the flat. Over 60% of the vineyards are planted to premium red wine varieties, including Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot ( for Australia's first 100% Petit Verdot wine ), with Chardonnay the largest single white grape planting on the estate.
Winemaking at Pirramimma has been a family affair for well over 100 years. Now in the very capable hands of Alex and Geoff Johnston, grandsons of the winery's founder, Pirramimma has seen many significant changes, including the construction of a 3100 square metre naturally cooled rammed earth barrel storage facility, and the expansion of the land holdings from 97 hectares to 250 hectares, 180 of which are now planted to grapes.
Geoff Johnston is a winemaker with a world perspective. He is graduate of the Charles Sturt University and studied in France where his strong interest in the classic Bordeaux grape variety, Petit Verdot, first developed. Geoff planted a small trial area of Petit Verdot in 1983 which has since expanded to over 10 hectares of mature vines. His Petit Verdot vintages are award winning, prompting the prestigious European wine magazine WeinWisser to ask.... "is there any better Petit Verdot in the world...?"
Pirramimma's dedication to fine wine making has seen the brand grow consistently over the years and has underpinned a successful expansion into export markets. Pirramimma's comerstone philosophy is to produce wines from grapes grown in its own family estate vineyards, thus ensuring that the highest possible quality standards are met, and that the wines showcase the unique regional characteristics of McLaren Vale.
"A long-established, family-owned company with outstanding vineyard resources. It is using those resources to full effect, with a series of intense old-vine varietals including Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, all fashioned without over-embellishment. There are two quality tiers, both offering excellent value, the packaging significantly upgraded." -James Halliday
All Pirramimma wines are processed and matured on-site under Geoff Johnston's personal supervision. As a result, Pirramimma produces premium quality wines at an affordable price - a philosophy seen as the key to a successful future.